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Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Horizontal top bar hives
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:25 am    Post subject: umm? Reply with quote

Last opened our HTBH before Christmas, did so again a few days ago.
Doesn't matter how I open (Brood end or honey), they are very agro.

As I hadn't checked brood for a while, I started at brood end and worked along. As soon as I open any gap between top bars many dozens of bees attack. Of course I've full protection but..?

There's 26 bars available, and used, of which 15 are brood with the 16th top half cap honey but the bottom half that darker brown, as in set up for more brood.

Took me 2 hours to do this, so many bees poking their heads up between bars, I try not to crush any - impossible!

Seems like our bees produce minimal honey, maximal brood.
So can we take honeycomb?
or are we just bee guardians?
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you use smoke to calm those bees down? You need to be quicker, after ten minutes all bees become nervous.

We call those hives "meat hives" in German since those hives turn every drop of nectar into brood. But you can make a test: take one comb with capped honey, scratch it open (uncap), let the honey drip out, each side of the comb for some hours. Replace and see if the bees refill that comb.

But it could be a nectar dearth, too. So did it rain where you live down in Victoria? Do you know the flows where you live? Ask other beekeepers in your location how their honey crop does. Wait for a season and see how your bees do.

If nothing helps and you have a "meat hive" the only way to get at least some hobey, is to requeen with a less broody queen.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you smoke them?

After so long were there lots of bridge comb that had to be cut? This will upset them.

To really speed things up try getting a strip of wood about 3mm wide. When closing up close the topbar till the bees can just get between them. Drop the bit of wood in and close the topbar up on it. Take the shim out then close up. it really speeds up your inspection which will help keep the agro down.

Do you have a flow on at present? if not they will be more stroppy.

When did you open them? If too early in the day the field bees will be in the hive. Not nice......

What was the weather like. If too cool or drizzly the field bees will be in there again. Not nice.

Cheers
Rob
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for your replies zaunreiter & rmcpb.

I only open the hive if it's sunny and warmish - 20C or warmer - and late morning/early afternoon.
Also, I do use smoke before I open. Some at the entrance, some through the mesh base.
Should I give them some time after applying smoke? I just open straight away at the moment.

We've had a 'goodish' Summer here. Very few hot, dry days. There's been enough rain to maintain some ground moisture but it's been unusually humid.
A friend, who lives nearby, collected 30 litres of honey from just 1 of his hives so conditions are good for the bees.

Comb in the brood section is perfectly straight along the bars however, all the combs with honey have a slight drift across bars and can't be seperated without some breakage.

I do need to be quicker, for my sake as well as the bees.
Had a thought that a slim piece of wood could be inserted between the bars but that it might upset the internal workings of the hive. However, used as a temporary measure to push the bees back down before closing sounds a good idea.

Maybe I should ask my friend if he can requeen my hive. Does that need to done at a particular time of year?

thanks again
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you had a similar summer to us. After the hot,dry spring it became more gentle and we had a nice mild summer. Looks like autumn is setting in hard, got to 17 here today but we live in the mountains.

Back to the bees. You need to go into your hives more often and fix straying comb before it becomes a problem. When it is new its very easy to bend it back on track so it does not become a problem.

If your mate has a gentle queen you can get you could requeen your hive now but not much later in the season. Our climate is much more mild than our American or European friends so now is OK. If you haven't done it before, and your new queen is in a queen cage its really easy, just squish the old queen, leave them queenless for a day or two then slip the queen cage between some combs with the plug up. They will release her and off you go. Make sure ou remove the queen cage or you will end up with some "interesting" comb.

Cheers
Rob.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mbc wrote:
Comb in the brood section is perfectly straight along the bars however, all the combs with honey have a slight drift across bars and can't be seperated without some breakage.

I do need to be quicker, for my sake as well as the bees.
Had a thought that a slim piece of wood could be inserted between the bars but that it might upset the internal workings of the hive.
The slim piece of wood will encourage the combs to stay on one bar. It's a "must have" in TBH IMO to keep it inspectable. You will be allowing the bees to choose the comb spacing, but providing bars at the spacing they choose to make your life (and theirs in the long term) easier.
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks rmcpb & trekmate,

I'd entered through the honeycomb end the previous few times and the comb was very soft and I'd eased it back onto its original bar.
Next time I looked, it was again slightly crossed.
I wonder if it's because I hadn't lined the bars up exactly (as in, maybe a bee got squished and threw the alignment off or something)

I'll probably be seeing my friend tuesday night & I'll ask him about requeening etc. Though he's dealt with the standard beehives only, I guess that process is the same.

trekmate, do you recomend permanent slim inserts between the top bars rather than temporary? Is 3mm the thickness you'd recommend?
The squishing of bees, or the amount of time it takes not to squish bees, is making my early beekeeping experience unpleasant.

thanks again
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comb where honey is stored is usually thicker than where there is brood and they sometimes make it thicker at the outside top edges. The "shim" idea is instead of different widths of top-bar to accommodate the different comb thickness, so yes, leave them in wherever they are needed. I keep a selection in the roof space of each hive, from 6mm to about 12mm. The comb can be off-centre but still completely on a bar, so there is no need to be exact.

Rob's suggestion for the 3mm strip is only to push the bees down gently from a gap between bars as you close up, then remove that strip. A bee needs about 8mm, so closing the bars to 8mm then lowering the 3mm strip onto the gap means there will be no bees to squash. Close up the bars to the strip then remove the strip. Bees can't get back into the 3mm gap so you can close that easily.
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mbc
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Berwick, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks,
you've all been very helpful
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